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DROBETA or Drubeta (Drobeta-Turnu Severin) Romania.

A large Dacian city that became Roman. It is mentioned by ancient sources (Ptol., Tab. Peut., Not. dig.) as an important center on the left banks of the Danube, near the Iron Gate.

The Dacian city was conquered in 101-2 by the Romans, who settled their veterans there. Apollodorus of Damascus built a bridge across the Danube in 103-5. (Procop. De aed.; Dio Cass.). It is an imposing stone structure 1135 m long resting on 20 piles connecting Drobeta to Pontes (on the right bank of the river). The arches and the floor of the bridge were of wood. Some ruins (masonry of gates and piles) are still visible. Trajan had most of his troops cross this bridge during his expedition against Decebalus in A.D. 105. This bridge is represented twice on Trajan's Column: at the time of its dedication and during the passing of the troops on the N bank of the Danube. At its N end Apollodorus built a quadrilateral stone camp (123 x 137.5 m). It too is visible in the scene of the dedication of the bridge on Trajan's Column. Four gates, each at a wing of the citadel, gave access to it. Towers guarded the corners and inside there was an imposing praetorium, two horrea, and houses for the officers and soldiers. Many legions passed through it (V Macedonica, VII Claudia, IV Flavia, XIII Gemina, Cohors I Antiochiensium, etc.), but in permanent garrison there were Cohors III Campestris (2d c.), and Cohors I sagittariorum milliaria (3d c.). The latter built a large bath building on the banks of the Danube for public and military use. In the 3d c., the soldier-brickmaker Aurelius Mercurius with a labor force of 60 soldiers, repaired it.

The ruins of the ancient city (ca. 2 sq. km) are now completely covered by the modern city. Its necropoleis were located at the places now known as Parcul Rozelor and Bariera Craiovei. During the first half of the 3d c., the city was surrounded by a moat, a vallum, and a wall, the remains of which were still visible during the last century. At the founding of Dacia inferior (118-19), Hadrian granted Drobeta the rank of municipium and ca. 198-208 Septimius Severus raised it to the rank of colonia. The inscriptions show that inhabitants of the city included Dacians, Romans, Thracians, Celts, and Orientals. It attracted veterans, who generally came from the Danube Valley garrisons and were landowners or communal magistrates. Many merchants also came, attracted by the traffic facilitated by the bridge, the port of Drobeta, and the Roman road that led along the left bank of the river. A large agricultural-grazing area surrounded the city, extending as far as the Cerna and Jiu rivers. For construction, Drobeta used stone from the quarries of the Iron Gate area and Brezniţa. Terra sigillata vases as well as various metal objects attest to its trade relations with all the provinces of the Empire, from Gaul to Phoenicia and Egypt. In the city there was also a collegium fabrum. An inscription of the time of Septimius Severus mentions a tabularium of a fiscal customs office directed by two servi villici. Among the most popular gods of Drobeta were Cybele (a temple), Iupiter Zbelsurdos, Mithra, and Venus. Even after the abandonment of Dacia, Drobeta remained under Roman domination since it was an important bridgehead on the N bank of the Danube.

In the 4th c., the camp was reconstructed (Diocletian? Constantine the Great?), fortified, and provided with well-defended gates and towers. But the attack of Attila against the Empire of the East was to destroy it. The disaster was so great that even the ancient Geto-Dacian name was lost and when Justinian constructed a defense tower on the ruins of ancient Drobeta, he called it Theodora.

The objects found during excavations are in the Iron Gate Museum at Turnu Severin and in the National Museum at Bucharest.


CIL III, 1582-87; 6279; 8006-21; 8032; 8062-76; 14216, 1-16, 28; 14484; AnÉpigr (1914) 117, 118; (1939) 19, 369; (1944) 100; (1959) 309-17.

L. F. de Marsigli, Description du Danube (1744) passim; V. Pârvan, “Ştiri nouă din Dacia Malvensis” ACRMI 36 (1931) 1-10; A. Bărcăcilă, Drubeta: une ville daco-romaine (1938); G. Florescu, “Castrul roman Drobeta,” Revista Istorică Română 3 (1933) 54-77; D. Tudor, Drobeta (1965); id., Oltenia romană (3d ed., 1968) passim; id., Oraşe (1968) 289-303; id., Podurile romane de la Dunărea de Jos (1971) 53-153.

For Apollodorus, see W. L. MacDonald, The Architecture of the Roman Empire I (1965) 129-37.


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